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13 June 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2017 Mini-Camp Media Availability (6/13/17)

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Quarterback Jameis Winston
Linebacker Devante Bond
Tackle Donovan Smith
(On how mini-camp is like OTAs)
"Yeah, it's exactly like OTAs. We look at it as 'OTA 11.' The only difference really is that we could be on the field a little longer. We get these guys a little bit longer. We practice the same amount of time, but you can go out early and make some subtle changes like that, but there's really no difference. I thought offensively we were a little bit flat today, thought the defense got the best of the offense. Again, it's hard, it's hard. There's going to be highs and lows. There were some good plays on both sides but overall I thought the defense was just a little crisper than the offense."
(On the first interception of practice)
"Yeah, it was actually in two-minute, we started off practice in the two-minute drill and it was Robert Ayers getting the interception. That's one of those ones where, if you're in a real two-minute drill, Robert Ayers is probably trying like crazy to sack the quarterback. In underwear football, he's playing a little softer at the line of scrimmage. I don't think Jameis saw him. It was a nice play by Robert. The second group of two-minute, that was a really nice two-minute drive by Ryan Fitzpatrick, and then the third group got stopped on downs. That's how we started."
(On what's impressing him about the defense)
"I think the best thing our defense has done is, they've had a lot of guys nicked up, they've had a lot of guys missing, and they've probably gotten the best of the offense. If you just went through 11 quote-unquote OTA practices, I'd say overall the defense has won more than they've lost, and that's with Noah Spence out, Jacquies Smith out. J.J. Wilcox has been out the whole team, Justin Evans has been out the whole team. The defense, they've improved their depth. The main players in that defense – Kwon [Alexander] and Lavonte [David], Gerald [McCoy] in the middle, Vernon Hargreaves – have consistently made plays every day. Vernon Hargreaves had another nice interception there in that last period, too."
(On dropped passes)
"Too many. It was sloppiness, way too many balls on the ground. That's why I said offense, I didn't think the offense played very good, way too many balls on the ground. The offense was kind of just walking around out there today."
(On if he has specific goals for mini-camp)
"Well, it starts with getting nobody hurt, because we're at the end, players are going to be quote-unquote 'off' for six weeks. They're going to be working on their own. We want everybody healthy coming into training camp, so number one you don't want to get anybody hurt. We're finishing up our install on both sides. We're kind of at the end of our install, so we're working on some specific packages on offense and defense. We had a lot more focus on red zone today, I already mentioned the two-minute drill, some different formations on both sides of the ball, we worked on short-yardage in one of the walk-through periods. So there's a little more learning – the new guys, the rookies and some of the newer guys may be swimming a little bit. We're just trying to finish up on situational football more than anything, and then stay healthy going into fall camp."
 (On Vernon Hargreaves’ interception of quarterback Jameis Winston during the team drills)
“Well that’s a play package that we just put in today, a double move. The thing about those double moves, you normally can’t – when you just put something in, you’re trying to rep it with all three groups and you can’t rep it too much, these guys are smart, after these defense sees it once. I think we ran it three times today, had the one beautiful play for the touchdown. Hargreaves did intercept one. They were in a pressure on that one that got intercepted. Jameis would have taken a pretty good hit on that. He might even have been sacked. He was just trying to get it out. Again, this time of year, you’re cheering for both sides. You want both sides to do well. We need the work. Obviously I want the offense to do well, but at the same time, our defense is overlooked a lot. I’m happy for those guys, when they get the ball out. [Our] 29 takeaways last year was second in the league. That’s something that they’re working on every day. I hate seeing it against our offense. Kwon [Alexander] had two nice plays in the red zone where he poked the ball out on completions. The offense had too many on the ground. If you want to flip that over, the defense did a good job of getting the ball out.”
(On how running back Doug Martin has looked)
“Well, again, it’s hard for a running back to not look good when you’re going in shorts and nobody’s playing blocks, nobody’s on the ground. But Doug, he’s definitely in fantastic shape. He does look quick. As we’ve said all along, the main thing with Doug is him being healthy and having his issues behind him. Running backs, linemen on both sides of the ball, their time to shine is coming in training camp. I think after the first – when we come back in training camp, we go two days in shorts, one day in shells and then we go like a bunch of days in a row, other than players’ days off, where we’re in pads every day. That’s when those guys will really show how they’re doing.”
(On how the team evaluates players when the players are not in full pads)
“We did a spring grade on everybody. We did it yesterday, did spring grades on every player, how we thought they did in the offseason. It’s just harder at some positions than others. It’s got to be a combination of classroom, for running backs, how they are catching the ball, assignment, do they know their assignments? And blitz pickup, are they on the right guy? But you’re not going to be able to get yards after contact or anything like that. I mean, you can’t tell. But that’s just the rules we’re under right now.”
(On his comfort level with the presence of Hard Knocks)
“You know, as far as Hard Knocks goes, the only thing different than [the media] being out there – I’ll be honest, once practice starts, I don’t notice one person out there. There’s people in the middle, there’s people over there. When we’re practicing, I don’t see jack. Now, the one thing about Hard Knocks, they put a ‘mic’ on you, so they tape it to your chest every day. For about the first two minutes, you know it’s there, then you forget. We’re working. Whether there was 10 cameras at practice, or 100, it will make no difference. Now, what gets spit out, what comes out of my mouth, that you guys can’t hear during practice, we’ll have to see how that goes. Hopefully my mom’s not embarrassed.”
(On players saying they are already excited about training camp)
“That’s great to hear. They don’t say that around me [laughs]. We’ve talked a lot about that, having a plan for this six weeks. When we come back for training camp, we’re going. We don’t have two weeks of Phase 1 and three weeks of Phase 2. We don’t have a five-week buildup, so we talk to them a lot about being at the right body weight, being in condition, having the right hydration. Today was a good example of the humidity that you can expect here in August, even though we’ll be practicing in the morning. That’s encouraging to hear that. I hope those guys are thinking that way. In our team meetings over the next couple of days, I’ll be trying to paint a little bit of a picture about what to expect in the fall. Up to this point, we’ve been focusing on other stuff in the team meetings, but that’s what I’ll turn my focus to these last two days.”
(On any players that have surprised or stood out during this offseason)
“Every time I get asked that I’m sure I say the wrong ones because I’m just not thinking about it, but I don’t know about a surprise. I’d say everybody’s about where they need to be. I don’t think there’s anybody that’s not doing what we’re supposed to or anyone that’s out of place too much. I said it the other day, Cameron Brate has had a really good offseason. He and Adam Humphries have probably been the two most consistent players on offense. I’ll probably say Vernon Hargreaves is probably at the top of the defense as far as splash plays. As far as steady plays, Gerald McCoy is out there doing his job every day.”
(On what specific player is top of the rookie class)
“Rookie – well, rookies, because we’ve had a few of those guys out with injuries. So, the two guys obviously on offense, [tight end] O.J. Howard and [wide receiver] Chris Godwin have both done really well. Several of those other draft picks just haven’t had a chance to do much because we have two coming off surgeries and two have been nicked up. So, now you’re getting into the undrafted guys. Again, I’d say, they are about where they should be.”
(On cornerback Vernon Hargreaves’ growth lining up against wide receiver DeSean Jackson)
“I don’t know if we can say that today because there hasn’t probably been enough matchups between times DeSean’s on his side and DeSean’s on the other side and those guys all being here on the same days in the voluntary portion. I think that will be something that will play itself out more in training camp. One thing I can promise you, we’ve had nobody on our team with that kind of speed and those DBs are shocked every time at how much DeSean can run by them.”
(On growth of tackle Donovan Smith)
“We think he’s building on that second half [of last season]. We think he’s done that this spring. Donovan is a very intelligent guy, extremely athletic, extremely powerful. We have two guys that were drafted in that class – Donovan’s played every snap that he’s been there and Jameis [Winston] would’ve played every snap, but you guys made me take him out one game when I didn’t want to [laughs]. Donovan’s played so much and he’s going against an elite guy. I think the number one thing Donovan just has to cut down is he’s got to cut his penalties down and he’s got to play a little more consistent. When Donovan’s consistent, he can be physically dominating at times and we’re a lot happier with Donovan than some other people are.”
(On Donovan Smith’s responsibility in his role of protecting the quarterback)
“It’s a big responsibility. I think Donovan has the correct makeup, the proper makeup to play that position. We cut other players slack growing into their roles, but some people have the tendency to not cut Donovan as much slack. It’s a process. They don’t come right out of college and turn into Pro Bowl players the full day.”
(On how difficult it is for offensive lineman to make progress during the offseason with no contact rules)
“Well, because number one, there’s assignment and every coach made every player plus and minus, good and bad tapes in areas of improvement. Some of that is footwork, some of that is pad level, some of that is hand placement. We can still work on all of that stuff and then a lot of those things that the O-line in particular needs to work on, they can do over there in the far field with [Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach] George [Warhop] and [Assistant Offensive Line Coach] Butch [Barry] when they’re working on the sleds and working on the bags. It’s hard to sustain it. Sustain is one of the things we need to do better, but that is something we can’t really practice right now, but a lot of the other stuff we can practice.”
(On what things the offensive line can work on at this point in the offseason)
“Technique, footwork, hand placement.”
(On the impact that tight end O.J. Howard’s size and wide receiver DeSean Jackson’s speed will have on the offense)
“The playbook, not that much, but hopefully it affects the execution of the plays. That’s really what matters is - players make plays. Everybody’s got a playbook, but the players make plays. The ball doesn’t have to be perfect. If a guy can run fast enough to track it down or if a guy is big enough to get an errant throw – too high or too low.  Guys with exceptional skill and talent, they can make up for things that don’t look as clean from the quarterback or from the protection.”
(On kicker Roberto Aguayo in practice today and the competition at that position)
“It’s been close. They’ve been going five kicks a day and usually it’s one here or there. That’s the difference though over the course of the year between an 85 percent kicker and a 74 percent kicker. Roberto got the best of it today and looked good and [kicker] Nick [Folk] looked good. I think we worked back to 54 yards on that last one and Nick’s was a little bit short. Roberto hit five clean ones, so that’s what competition is.”
(On if he would like to keep a fullback on the roster this season)
“We’d love to if it’s the right fit, but when you only have 53 spots and 46 on game day, that’s the thing about that fullback is most teams that are going to use a fullback are going to be using it between 15 and 23 percent of their plays, so what else can that guy do? Can they play on special teams? They better be playing on four special teams. When you go back and forth on keeping a fullback or keeping another tight end. You mentioned [tight end] Luke [Stocker] can also play that spot. [Tight end] Alan Cross can also play that spot. That will be one of the battles there. Obviously, O.J. [Howard] and Cameron [Brate] are in pretty good shape at tight end, but when we get down to numbers between running backs, fullbacks and tight ends, that will be – what they are actually doing – any of those guys, do you they have one skillset that really stands out, whether it be Alan Cross as a pass catcher, Quayvon Hicks as a lead blocker. That’s what you’re weighing is their value.
(On if he is excited that the offseason program is coming to a close)
“I’m not excited that the offseason’s coming to a close, but I’m excited that the season is getting closer.”
(On if anyone or anything has stood out to him in the team’s offseason work)
“Everyone had a great OTAs and great phases. I just like being out here and competing against our guys, seeing the competitive atmosphere of the guys and everyone working hard. So I just love it.”
(On if he’s seen the level of play rising this offseason)
“Absolutely. We come out here to get better every single day and we’ve got some great weapons to use this year.”
(On how the chemistry feels with the team right now)
“It feels great, it feels great. Obviously, it has to get better and we will make it better, but now, with mandatory mini-camp, we’ll have everyone here and everyone will be executing to perfection.”
(On if he feels like a kid on Christmas morning having the entire team together this week)
“Yeah, absolutely. I’m excited for today. Hopefully we can get this practice in and, like you said, I do feel like a kid. We have a great team and everyone’s excited. I’m excited, everybody’s excited.”
(On his time with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and what he’s learned from him so far)
“It’s a great relationship. I’ve learned a lot. Not a Rubix cube, yet, but just the way he processes and the way he sees things. He’s helped me tremendously. He’s helped all of the quarterbacks in that quarterback room tremendously by the way that he sees things.”
(On how much it’s helped playing in the same offensive system)
“It’s helped a lot because, like I said, we’re striving for perfection and it just makes everyone feel comfortable. By the continuity, everyone just seems to be on the same page.”
(On the play of the defense this offseason)
“We have a great defense. A lot of people look at the offensive production and the guys we have on that side, but we wouldn’t have won the games that we won without our defense last year and I think everyone knows that – especially inside this building. So our defense is a great defense and just the challenges that they throw at us every single day, it really helps us.”
(On which Buccaneers defenders have challenged him the most in practice)
“Everyone. You’ve got the best defensive tackle in the world up front. You really can’t see what he does because we don’t have pads, but as far as linebackers, Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David, they’re the best at their craft, as well. In that secondary, [safety] Keith Tandy is so smart. That’s the guy that leaves the building when I leave the building, and you’ve got two great corners in Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves. Everywhere around we have great guys – [safety] Chris Conte, as well. Those guys work hard and that’s what we want out of our defense.”
(On how he leads and welcomes in the team’s rookies)
“You just get them involved. They’re excited. They really want to go out there and make a difference and make an impact right now, but right now we don’t have pads on. We can see what you’ve got from a skillset standpoint, but at the end of the day, when you put those pads on it’s going to be a lot different.”
(On offensive lineman Ali Marpet’s transition to center and how Winston has helped him with that)
“Well, Ali is a bright guy so the main thing is just we never had that chance to actually work together. So he’s saying that I’m helping him – he’s actually helping me, so it’s definitely hand-in-hand. We’re like two peas in a pod. He’s been our guard and now he’s a center. It’s different from a communication level, so I’ve helped him out a little bit but he’s helped me out a lot more.”
(On his recent Instagram post about wanting to win championships)
“Well that’s just the goal – the goal is to win Super Bowls here and if that’s not the goal for everyone in the building, you don’t really need to be here.”
(On what he’s seen from defensive tackle Chris Baker so far)
“I mean, I can’t really talk about defensive tackles because, like I said, I can’t really tell about their rush because we don’t have on pads. But as far as film, he’s a beast. He’s a monster. I get the luxury that our defensive line [doesn’t] get to rush me. So I’ll be able to tell you about Chris Baker when we see him on the field, but as a teammate he’s a very funny guy. I love him.”
(On what personal goals he is setting for the offense over mini-camp)
“The offseason isn’t over yet, so we’ve got to continue to prepare and I have to continue to prepare on my progressions, on my footwork and everything I need to become a great quarterback in this league. So right now I’m not focused on any specific thing that I need to get better on. I’m just focusing on every little thing that I can improve to help this team be successful.”
(On talking about the swagger of wide receiver DeSean Jackson and if he thinks that’s important to a team)
“Absolutely, because we play a game that is so, so fierce and so competitive and a lot of people try to get tight. DeSean, what he brings to the game is he brings a pleasant mindset to this team. He’s laid back, he’s going to do his job and he loves to make big plays and like Coach Koetter had said, he said, ‘We want people to make plays.’ That’s what we’re here for. If you’re scared to make plays, you don’t need to be here. That’s from me – Coach Koetter didn’t say that.”
(On tackle Donovan Smith)
“I love Donovan Smith. He and Ali are two of my best friends on that offensive line because we came in together. But I’ve got all the trust in the world in that guy. He’s a tough guy and he’s a smooth guy, too.”
(On DeSean Jackson’s mindset)
“Just ease. When you see him on the field, you’re just like, ‘He’s at ease,’ because he’s laid back. He’s comfortable in his own body and that’s how we all have to be, just comfortable with every situation, no matter the circumstance.”
(On wide receiver Mike Evans saying that the team is practicing with some swagger)
“I mean, that’s what it’s about, is playing with swag, playing with fun. That’s one of our team mottos, is ‘Enjoy the ride,’ and that’s what we want to do.”
(On how the team avoids letting praise and expectations affect their performance)
“You’ve got to execute. All the [media] can talk and tell us and predict our future, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to get on that field and we’ve got to execute and we’ve got to play.”
(On Evans making the NFL Top 100 list at No. 29)
“I feel he should be in the Top 10. How much he means to me and this team is indescribable. He’s an amazing player but I’m happy for him. I’m happy that he is a Top 100 player but to me, he’s the No. 1 guy. He’s the best receiver in the league. You think about the receivers that are in our conference, Julio Jones is going to be placed probably before him, but Mike is every bit of Julio. And I commend Julio because he’s a monster too, but I love Mike. I love our guys.”
(On what it’s going to be like to have some downtime before training camp starts)
“I’m just going to be anxious, I’m just going to be anxious to get back. I’m going to be trying to do everything I can to stay prepared, stay in the mojo of football.”
(On if his non-verbal communication with Mike Evans has improved)
“It has to be like that. All the great quarterbacks and receiver duos have that connection, and we’ve had a pretty good connection. Our connection has grown, actually, over the past two years and now I’m expecting it to go up another notch now that we’ve been together, we’re comfortable with each other and he’s as amazing as he is.”
(On if he can compare his connection with Evans to anyone he played with in college)
“I always want to have a good connection with my receivers, but the connection that me and Mike Evans have is like no other.”
(On how he can replicate with Jackson the improvisational connection he has with Evans)
“I mean, when you’ve got a guy like him, imagine if I had Mike one-on-one all those times I had to improvise. I’ll leave it at that.”
(On returning to the field after spending his rookie season on injured reserve.
"It's been good. It definitely feels good. I had a learning year last year so now everything's just all coming together for me. The game's slowing down for me, so the game's going good."
(On having a chance to compete for the starting strongside linebacker job)
"I've just got to worry about me and just get better every day. I know what's ahead of me; I've just got to keep getting better every day."
(On if last year's chance to learn is helping him now)
"Definitely. I'm picking it up a lot quicker. Last year, especially in the beginning, you're in a fog. The learning curve, you've got to get past that. Definitely everything's picked up quicker; it's like second nature now."
(On his focus during mini-camp)
“Stay the course. Stay the course, focus these last few days. A lot of people tend to drift off a little bit because we’ve been going at it for however many weeks now, so pretty much just stay the course, remember the task at hand and then go out there and perform.”
(On his consistency)
“I am getting there. Obviously, it is still a work in progress. There’s not much you can say or see really out here not in pads and stuff, but you just come out here and work at it every day.”
(On J.R. Sweezy’s presence)
“Have you seen Sweezy? Do you see it? No. He’s mean. He’s mean. He’s a fun guy, quiet, but on the field, you see it.”
(On the increased “swagger” of the offense this offseason)
“Anytime you can get three years under your belt in the same offense and understanding and the same group of guys, obviously, the confidence is going to build and be there. So, yeah, we definitely are playing more confident and a little more swagger because we know it. We have seen it, done it and there’s really no excuse for messing up really.”
(On transformation of Jameis Winston since the beginning of his NFL career)
“Just all around. He’s always been a leader, but the way he’s leading, he’s taken it up a notch. He is the hardest working guy I know. Anytime you get here at 5:45 in the morning, he’s already here. It’s like you can’t beat him to the building. The work he puts in is just tremendous and it only benefits us at the end of the day.”

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